Recent research published in the medical journal The Lancet may lead to improved health conditions of persons suffering from the disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Researchers working on this study concluded that a modified diet including higher calorie intake and increased carbohydrates could be a viable ALS treatment.
The study, which took place between 2009 and 2012 involved 24 participants, 20 of which carried out the study to completion. The patients suffering from ALS were randomly divided into three groups, including one control group and two other groups who experienced modified diets. There were no changes made to the diet of the control group, who continued to receive a formula by means of a feeding tube that would keep their weight stable. The diet of a second group was modified to increase calorie intake through a diet high in carbohydrates. The diet of the third group was enhanced with foods rich in fats. Both of the groups in the experiment whose food intake was modified experienced a caloric intake providing the patients with 125 percent of the daily calories that they needed to maintain a stable weight.
The patient’s diet modifications lasted for four months, and the participants were closely monitored for five months after the study ended to gather information on any changes in the health of the patients. At the five-month evaluation of the patients who received ALS treatment through a modified diet, participants who received a diet high in carbohydrates suffered less complications from the disease since the change in diet. Also, ALS patients who followed the diet high in carbohydrates experienced a more significant weight gain of approximately .86 pounds each month. The participants in the control group whose diets remained the same throughout the study gained an estimated .25 pounds monthly and participants who had a diet high in fats lost an average of 1.01 pounds each month during the study. Additionally as recorded at the five-month evaluation there were no deaths among participants who were given a diet high in carbohydrates, while there was one death among participants who were given a diet high in fat, and three deaths among participants in the control group.
ALS is a disease which negatively affects how motor neurons function in the body. The damaged neurons negatively change the way that nerve cells in a person’s brain and spinal cord perform overtime. The damaged nerve cells are in control of the body’s muscle movement, causing those suffering from ALS to experience muscle weakness and eventually full-body paralysis. Persons in the most severe stages of this disease typically experience muscle weakness or failure in the respiratory system, and succumb to death due to respiratory failure.
Patients with ALS often lose the ability to chew and swallow food and must receive nutrition through a feeding tube. As those suffering from this disease typically experience weight loss due to the disease, researchers note the importance of the findings of this experiment and how a modified diet can potentially lead to an ALS treatment.
While further evidence and testing is necessary to draw any solid conclusions, scientists have determined that the findings of this study could lead to a new treatment of ALS through a modified diet.
By Allison Longstreet